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A Note from our Chapter Chair
For the Birds

Susan Eastwood

May 2024

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One of the first things I do on these Spring mornings is to open the windows and listen to the birdsong. Now, I wouldn’t claim to be a birder, but I’m always excited when the hummingbirds return to our feeders and the bluebirds at least consider nesting in the boxes we’ve set out for them – swallows are ok too. Our community connections Facebook feed is full of gorgeous photography of the ospreys nesting in town, following them as they contend with hawk attacks and cheering on the broods as they grow.

This month, Sierra Club Connecticut focuses on our feathered friends in several events. 

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Image: Bluebird on a branch with a mouthful for her nest by Julie Kurose.

The Hartford group had a bird walk this morning (May 11 in Vernon. If you’re reading this early, you might still catch it. Their monthly meeting topic was “gardening for birds.”) 

 

From May 25 to the 29, Black Birders Week will include three fascinating events starting with a special event in Bridgeport exploring the parakeet legend. Go birding and be inspired to pen some poetry on May 26, or take to the water at Wings and Waves on May 29. Black Birders Week is organized by  the Aspetuck Land Trust, Connecticut Land Conservation Council, Gather New Haven, and our Remington Woods team.

 

All our events can be seen here.

 

Now for the hard part – our birds are in danger. In fact, the global bird population has declined by 3 billion in the past 50 years. That is across species, not the extinction of certain ones, although that is happening too. Many bird habitats have become unlivable due to urbanization, pollution, and climate change. A 2019 Audubon study found that two thirds of bird species are at increased risk of extinction due to the warming of our planet. More recent studies point to the agricultural use of pesticides and herbicides as important causes of the decline. These chemicals may harm the birds directly or reduce their food supply by killing off insects. The study found a 57% decline in farmland birds compared to urban bird decline (28%) and forest bird decline (18%).

 

The Sierra Club and its allies have been working hard to help protect birds. We prioritized bills to reduce toxic neonicotinoids and rodenticides in our legislative advocacy this year. The neonics bill, Senate Bill 190, AN ACT CONCERNING THE USE OF NEONICOTINOIDS, would have helped protect our bees and other insects, but it did not advance after its Public Hearing. The rodenticides bill, House Bill 5217, AN ACT CONCERNING THE USE OF CERTAIN RODENTICIDES, would have restricted the use and sale of second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides in order to protect birds of prey, like eagles and hawks, from being poisoned by rodenticides. 

 

Rodenticides are poison, it’s that simple. When we use them to kill pesky rodents, we spread the poison up the food chain to their predators, including owls and eagles. Pets may also be sickened or killed by contact with the rodents who have ingested the rodenticide, but are not yet deceased. It is a slow and painful death, and safer alternatives are readily available. We can do this more humanely and avoid unintentional victims.

 

Unfortunately, HB 5217 was referred to the Appropriations Committee where it died. Attempts to revive the bill failed. We will revisit both these important issues in the 2025 Legislative session.

 

This year’s legislative session concluded on Wednesday, May 8. Read more in our Legislative Update.

 

Also be sure to check out our Outings. Getting out in nature is great for our physical and mental health. The Niantic Earthfest on May 18 will be a fun day by the shore. 

 

Have ideas for a fun outing? We have an Outing leaders Training coming up on May 21. As always, we welcome you to get more involved.  If you are inspired to volunteer, we would love to hear from you. There are tabling opportunities, where you would be paired with an experienced volunteer, a great way to get started. 

 

I hope to meet you at one of our upcoming events!

 

For nature,

 

Susan

Susan Eastwood is Chapter Chair of Sierra Club Connecticut.

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